BSSS Tertiary Packages

The BSSS Tertiary (T) package offers students the opportunity to achieve an ACT Senior Secondary Certificate (ACTSSC) and an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). The BSSS T package extends students in a minimum of three subject disciplines and develops the skills required for success in tertiary studies.

View the subject offerings at Radford College.

The completion of a T package requires students to complete a minimum of 20 units of study, adhere to one of the three available study packages (listed below), and sit the ACT Scaling Tests.

BSSS T Requirements
Completing 20 units of study
All students are required to complete 20 unit of study to be eligible to receive an ATAR. Of the 20 units, students must study a minimum of 14 T units. The remaining six units can be tertiary, or be comprised of a combination of A, E, T, M, H or R units. Please note, students are only permitted to include a maximum of two H units and two R units.

Study packages
The three available T study packages are:

  • Five majors
  • Four majors and one or two minors
  • Three majors and three minors.

At Radford, a major represents four semesters of study in the same course, and minor represents two (or three) semesters of study in the same course area.

ACT Scaling Test (AST)
Usually held in September, the ASTs are comprised of three tests, namely the multiple choice test, the short response test and the writing task. All T students must sit these in Semester 2, Year 12.

  • Multiple Choice Test
    The multiple choice test is 2 hours and 15 minutes long and is comprised of 80 questions. The questions are drawn from the Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences and Mathematics, and are grouped into units, each based on a piece of stimulus material.
  • Short Response Test
    The short response test is 2 hours long and incorporates between 19 – 25 questions, based on 10 units. The required answers range from a word, to a phrase, to a sentence or a paragraph.
  • Writing Task
    The writing task is 2 hours and 30 minutes long and requires the students to write an extended prose, in which they develop a reasoned argument and a clear conclusion.

The ASTs are designed to measure the skills and processes of comprehension and interpretation, analysis and synthesis of information, critical thinking, decision-making, problem solving and evaluation and response.

The skills required for success in the AST are believed to develop slowly as a result of a variety of experiences, of which formal schooling is one important element. A student’s best preparation is to read widely and to think critically.

Grading of T units
Further to A – E unit grades, T units are also assessed via unit scores and course scores.

What are unit scores?
Unit scores are numerical values, not percentages, which demonstrate the student’s rank in relation to other students enrolled in the unit. Unit scores are standardised scores which are the combination of historical parameters (i.e. means and standard deviations of previous cohorts in that course) and back-scaling against the student’s performance in English and Mathematics. This method is used to predict the final scaling that will be conducted using the individual and group achievement in the ASTs.

With over ten years of data and predictive data, such as NAPLAN and AAS results, these parameters have allowed for robust ATAR predictions. Unit scores are comparable from subject to subject and semester to semester, with each score back-scaled to Semester 1, Year 11.

What is a Course score?
Course scores represent a student’s final score for a major or a minor. To calculate a course score for a subject, the best 80% of a student’s unit scores are used. For a major, this equates to the best two unit scores and 80% of the third best score. For a minor, this corresponds to the best unit score and 60% of the second best unit score.

The calculation of course scores sees the lowest unit score (for a major) or part of the lowest unit score (for a minor) not included.

As each course is discrete, course scores are automatically calculated accorded to the corresponding best unit scores, as opposed to entire semesters counting. For example, Semesters 1, 3 and 4 might be best in Maths, while semesters 2, 3 and 4 might be best in English. The process for calculating course scores is automatic and does not need to be ‘applied’ for.

Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)
What is an ATAR?
The ATAR is a percentile ranking used by universities to assist in the selection of school leavers for entry into undergraduate courses. It is used as an indication of a student’s suitability for study at university level, and to allow universities to select appropriate numbers of students for each course.

The ATAR ranks students relative to the full age cohort: i.e., relative to the set of students who would be in the group if all students stayed on and completed Year 12. It is reported with a range from 99.95 for the highest ranked students down to 30.00. For example, a student with an ATAR of 85.00 indicates a performance better than 85 per cent of the population eligible to be in Year 12 or in the top 15 per cent in relation to all the students who started school at the same time.

How is the ATAR calculated?
The ATAR is calculated by generating an aggregate score, based on the student’s best 3.6 course scores, and the student’s performance in the ASTs. A student’s aggregate score is calculated by adding their three highest course scores, derived from majors, and their next highest course score from their fourth major, or their highest course score from a minor. The student’s aggregate score sees them ranked against their cohort. This rank is preserved, irrespective of the student’s AST results. This is because the BSSS values the student’s two years of achievement and teacher judgement. The AST performance, while not altering the cohort ranking does determine the distribution of ATARs between and within schools.